The Paradoxes of Football Spectatorship: On-Field and Online Expressions of Social Capital among the “Grog Squad”

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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  • 1 Durham University
  • | 2 University of Adelaide
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In this article we examine the cultural practices of a group of South Australian football supporters known as the “Grog Squad.” While hard drinking is undeniably a central part of this group of exclusively male fans, being a “Groggie” is much more than just being in a boozy boys club. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork undertaken throughout the 2005 South Australian football season, as well as Internet research, we argue that the style of support engaged in by the Grog Squad represents a paradox for how we typically understand football fans. On the one hand, much of the language and behavior of the Grog Squad is characteristic of the aggressive masculinity common in male contact sports. On the other, being a Groggie provides access to a range of resources, benefits, networks, and supports that confound many of the popular assumptions about male social relationships in sport. To explain the arrant sexism and homophobia of the Grog Squad simply in terms of hegemonic masculinity is to obscure the very real social supports and connections (best described as social capital) that are often overlooked in studies of male sports fans.

Palmer is with the School of Applied Social Sciences at Durham University, Durham, UK. Thompson is a Research Fellow in Anthropology at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia.

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